Gail Oerke, 76, who retired in 1999 as a newsletter writer and editor for Reading is Fundamental, a nonprofit group that promotes literacy, died Dec. 8 at Georgetown University Medical Center of a perforated colon.
Among her early jobs, Mrs. Oerke was a writer and editor at the United Nations and a researcher for the San Francisco Chronicle.
In the 1960s, she lived in the southeastern African country of Malawi, where her then-husband was a Peace Corps official. During those years, she did volunteer work at a leprosy hospital.
She settled in the Washington area in the 1970s and worked at the Peace Corps headquarters in Washington through the 1980s. She then joined Reading is Fundamental.
Gail Lovelle Burton was a native of Brownwood, Tex., and a 1954 graduate of what is now Baylor University in Waco, Tex. She received a master’s degree in history at the University of Texas at Austin.
Her marriage to Andrew Oerke ended in divorce.
Survivors include three children, Jared Oerke and Greta Oerke, both of Washington, and Kirsten Oerke of London; a sister; two grandsons.